"Eleno Elena de Céspedes: a transsexual in Spain of Philip II ', Ignacio Ruiz #frentealespejo

Born in 1545 in a woman's body in Alhama de Granada, in the present province of Granada, slave, home of Benito Medina, his biological father while love. When he was about eight years old, It was granted freedom to the couple who imposed the name of Elena de Céspedes, in tribute to the late wife of his father and until then love. To the 15 from 16 she married Christopher Lombardo, builder, Jaén neighbor, which a son who would deliver some neighbors Sevilla had, which would never again have any news.

From that moment, would wander by many Andalusian towns, exercising the office of tailor and knitter, such as Jerez, Granada, Marchena or Arcos de la Frontera, from where he would enlist in the troops of the town Duke Felipe II offered to appease the Moorish uprising in the Alpujarras. It was at that moment when he began using the generic “lawns”, then be called Eleno de Céspedes.

Soon he moves to Madrid, where Philip II had decided to install the Court of Monarchy, where he befriended a surgeon of Valencian origin, which he was invited by guest in their home, at the same time he gave lessons surgery. Eleno soon came to become an excellent professional, playing his new office in the hospital for about three years Court, from which he happens to ply their trade in the Sierra de Madrid. He is accused of exercising the office without any title, return to Madrid, where he was examined and won two titles: to bleed and purge, and surgery.

"After having had sexual intercourse with multiple women, married and single, He met the woman who would be his wife "

He is having had sexual intercourse with multiple women throughout his life, from married to single, It was being around Madrid when he met the woman who would be his wife, María del Caño. The idea expressed Céspedes on more than one occasion was to move away from a bygone licentiousness, Looking now recollection of marriage. In this way, the link came to be held in the town of Yepes, in 1585, although for it had to employ more clever techniques to overcome when warnings, ordered by the parish priest because of his complexion lacking beards, since otherwise it could not be celebrated a marriage whose purpose was none other than procreation, He is accused of “hairless capon“.

Everything seemed fine, until the marriage was discovered in the town of Ocaña manchega, by some who had met in the War of the Alpujarras, which accused him before the local authorities, not taking time to be arrested and locked up in jail.

From there, Eleno de Céspedes would be transferred to the inquisitorial prison in Toledo, where it would be subject to a lengthy process that would project between 1587 a 1589, where, in a clear attempt to defend, claimed and kept along it actually was a hermaphrodite, although at no time could prove.

Nor he could prove that at some point I'd had genital organs other than those who had at birth, female.

"As a defense, He argued and maintained that it was actually a hermaphrodite, although at no time could prove "

Finally, in the year 1589 the inquisitorial court condemned him to receive Toledo 200 lashing, hundred in public streets and as many in Ciempozuelos Square Zocodóver of Toledo. further, It should serve without pay in a hospital for a period of ten years. The place was chosen in the first instance the Royal Hospital of Toledo, but soon the director of that institution had to request the transfer Inquisition, since the fame he had acquired Céspedes was so great that many came to the site, simply, out of curiosity. In this way, He was soon transferred to the hospital of El Puente del Arzobispo, from where he lost track.

Curiously it indicates that Eleno de Céspedes came to become a character cervantino, to be included by the immortal author in his work Persiles jobs and Sigismunda, wherein he embodies the Cenotia witch.

Sources and bibliography:

  • National Historical Archive, Inquisition, Leg. 234, n. 24.
  • Ruiz Rodríguez, I.; Delgado Hernández, A., Elena de Céspedes Eleno. A man trapped in a woman's body, in the Spain of Philip II, Madrid, Dykinson, 2017.

Ignacio Ruiz Rodríguez is Professor of History of Law and Institutions at the University Rey Juan Carlos.

The book Elena de Céspedes Eleno. A man trapped in a woman's body, in the Spain of Philip II It can be purchased at the bookstore Dykinson.